Careers take off after thesis ‘excellence’

The thesis prize presentations at Flinders on 5 May, left to right, Professor Robert Saint, Dr Gorica Micic, supervisor Professor Luciano Beheregaray, Dr Jane Bickford, Dr Rachel Andrew, Dr Pamela Graham, Dr Emma Maguire, Dr Julie-Ann Hulin and Professor Tara Brabazon, Dean of Graduate Research.

The 12 recipients of the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Doctoral Thesis Excellence are emerging as leaders in their fields, with several now overseas or working, teaching and researching in Australia.

Dr Joshua Britton, who completed his PhD in 2016 with Professor Colin Raston at Flinders University and Professor Gregory Weiss at the University of California Irvine in the US, is now a postdoctoral associate at the School of Chemistry Jamison Research Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.

His paper, Multistep Continuous-Flow Transformations Using Vortex Fluidics, has had a long list of citations outlining various foundations for using the Vortex Fluidic Device technique in processes as diverse as biodiesel generation to protein immobilisation and enzyme acceleration.

Dr Matthew Norris, also a PhD at the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences last year, has taken a postdoctoral appointment at the Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany.

“To date, seven natural product targets have been achieved using this approach,” says Dr Norris, who also was a recipient of the MF and MH Joyner PhD Scholarship and WG Walker Fulbright Fellowship.

“My research on peroxide-derived metabolites has led to four key publications in the field, which provide insight to their biosynthetic origin and demonstrate novel methods to overcome the challenges associated with their chemical synthesis,” he says.

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences award recipients Dr Julie-Ann Hulin (Clinical Pharmacology researcher) and Dr Jane Bickford (Speech Pathology lecturer and course coordinator) are continuing their research at Flinders: Dr Hulin into gene regulatory pathways in breast cancer and angiogenesis patients and Dr Bickford in ground-breaking lymphoedema research.

“The PhD (laryngectomy) study has led to further collaboration with the Head and Neck Oncological Service, Flinders Medical Centre with regard to the effectiveness of low-level laser therapy to manage lymphoedema and subsequent swallowing and communication difficulties after head and neck cancer treatment,” says Dr Bickford who works in Speech Pathology and Audiology in Health Sciences.

The award presentations were made by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Robert Saint who said: “Flinders University demonstrates a commitment to excellence in research higher degrees.

“These awards confirm the high standards of scholarship and supervision at this university.”

In Social and Behavioural Sciences, PhD thesis award recipient Dr Rachel Andrew is now working as a psychologist in a private psychology clinic that specialises in the treatment of eating disorders in both children and adults.

“My research has assisted me in this role in two main ways,” Dr Andrew says. “The research skills acquired through my postgraduate studies help me to interpret and effectively implement the latest evidence on best practice for treatment of eating disorders and body image disturbance.

“Further, my research on positive body image has shown me how important it is to consider positive aspects of body image and what benefits may come from enhancing this aspect of body image in some clients.”

Among the award winners in Education, Humanities and Law, Dr Pamela Graham and Dr Emma Maguire have become lecturers at Flinders in English and creative writing. Dr Maguire has a book contract with Palgrave Macmillan for a monograph based on her doctoral research.

More feedback from recipients of the 2016 Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Doctoral Thesis Excellence and some of their citations are listed below.

The 2017 Recipients for the Vice-Chancellor’s Prize for Doctoral Thesis Excellence are:

Faculty of Education, Humanities and Law

Dr Pamela Graham, Humanities and Creative Arts (Department of English, Creative Writing and Australian Studies) Supervisors: Associate Professor Kate Douglas, Dr Kylie Cardell Thesis title: Re-viewing the Lives of Others: “New Biography” in the Early Twenty-First Century.

The knowledge I gained from my PhD research helps me in my everyday work as a tutor, including as a teacher of life narrative at Flinders. More broadly, it also helps me think creatively about the construction of history and memory, and individual self-representation and public image – an enormously useful skill in the online era. The knowledge I gained from my PhD also forms the basis for my next research project which involves biographical narratives in public history settings, such as museums and monuments.

My thesis addresses this gap in the research by exploring biography as a cultural phenomenon as it appears in these hybrid, visual and multimodal forms. I examine a variety of texts, including the Wikipedia biography of Nelson Mandela, an avant-garde graphic biography of Marie Curie, and a bestselling creative non-fiction biography of Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells have become famous for their importance in medical research, and whose life story has been adapted for film by Oprah Winfrey.

I published on a range of life narrative topics during my candidature, but here are two publications that come directly from my thesis research: One on the cultural politics of Wikipedia biographies, and a forthcoming paper regarding crowdsourced online obituaries on the ABC Open website.

Dr Emma Maguire, Humanities and Creative Arts (Department of English, Creative Writing and Australian Studies) Supervisors: Associate Professor Kate Douglas, Dr Kylie Cardell Thesis title: Automedial Girlhoods: Reading Girls’ Autobiographical Practice in Digital Contexts.

Dr Maguire, an associate lecturer at Flinders, has a book contract with Palgrave Macmillan for a monograph based on her doctoral research. The thesis examined the digital self-presentation of girls and young women from the 1990s to today.

“The research showed that with each new wave of media technology – from homemade comics to blogs to YouTube vlogs – girls are key media innovators who adapt complex strategies of self-presentation that navigate sexism and misogyny in order to stake out digital space for themselves,” Dr Maguire says.

Dr Nithya Nagarajan, Humanities and Creative Arts (Drama) Supervisors: Dr William Peterson, Associate Professor Julie Erhart Thesis title: ‘Beyond Bharatanatyam: Re-visions, Ruptures and Resistance in the Feminist Choreographies of Anita Ratnam and Mallika Sarabhai’.

Nithya’s thesis examined the politics of gender and genre in contemporary Bharatanatyam, and prescribed a feminist framework for women to reclaim their power, desire and agency on stage. Dr Nagarajan currently works for the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and her portfolio includes business development, marketing strategy, course customisation and workshop facilitation.

Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Dr Julie-Ann Hulin, Medicine (Clinical Pharmacology) Supervisors: Dr Robyn Meech, Emeritus Professor Peter Mackenzie Thesis title: The role of homeobox factors BARx2 and Pax7 in Wnt signalling in muscle stem cells.

In my current role at Flinders, I am studying gene regulatory pathways related to breast cancer and angiogenesis.

The role of stem cells in degenerative disease is an area of considerable interest, and an understanding of how regulatory factors control stem cell behaviour may aid the future development of stem-cell based therapies.

My thesis work involved the study of muscle stem cells which are critical for muscle repair after injury and muscle maintenance during aging.

The molecular biology techniques and ideas that I developed during this comprehensive project have provided me with a skillset that can be applied to investigation of gene regulation and signalling pathways in many other disease states.

  • Hulin, J.A., Nguyen, T.D., Cui, S., Marri, S., Yu, R.T., Downes, M., Evans, R.M., Makarenkova, H. and Meech, R. (2016) ‘Barx2 and Pax7 regulate Axin2 expression in myoblasts by interaction with beta-catenin and chromatin remodelling’ Stem Cells. 34(8):2169-2182.
  • Zhuang, L., Hulin, J.A., Gromova, A., Nguyen, T.D., Yu, R.T., Liddle, C., Downes, M., Evans, R.M., Makarenkova, H. and Meech, R. (2014) ‘Barx2 and Pax7 have antagonistic functions in regulation of Wnt signalling and satellite cell differentiation’ Stem Cells. 32(6):1661-1673.
  • Meech, R., Gonzalez, K.N., Barro, M., Gromova, A., Zhuang, L., Hulin, J.A. and Makarenkova, H.P. (2012) ‘Barx2 is expressed in satellite cells and is required for normal muscle growth and regeneration’ Stem Cells. 30(2):253-265.

Dr Jane Bickford, Health Sciences (Speech Pathology)   Supervisors: Professor John Coveney, Dr Deborah Hersh and Dr Janet Baker   Thesis title: Validating the altered self: A qualitative study of the total laryngectomy experience.

Dr Bickford is Course Coordinator of the Master of Speech Pathology and lecturer in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Flinders School of Health Sciences. Her PhD has two papers about to go to review and one published in the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.

The thesis explored how a total laryngectomy (removal of the larynx) impacts self-identity and social participation. It provides a theoretical model to explain the embodied experience and how psychosocial supports may be evaluated and improved.

  • Bickford, J.M., Coveney, J., Baker, J.E. and Hersh, D. (2013). Living with the altered self: A qualitative study of life after total laryngectomy. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 15(3) pp. 324-333.

Dr Neti Juniarti, Nursing and Midwifery Supervisors: Dr Lana Zannettino, Emeritus Professor Jeffrey Fuller, Associate Professor Julian Grant   Thesis title: The Nursing Centre Care Model as a Collaborative Approach to Service Learning in Community Health in Indonesia.

Faculty of Science and Engineering

Dr Matthew Norris, Chemical and Physical Sciences Sciences Supervisors: Associate Professor Mike Perkins, Associate Professor Martin Johnston Thesis title: Biomimetic Total Synthesis of Peroxide-Derived Secondary Metabolites from Marine Sponges.

  • M.D. Norris and M.V. Perkins, “Total synthesis of plakilactones B, C and des-hydroxyplakilactone B by the oxidative cleavage of gracilioether furanylidenes,” Journal of Organic Chemistry, 2016, 81, 6848–6854.
  • M.D. Norris and M.V. Perkins, “Structural diversity and chemical synthesis of peroxide and peroxide-derived polyketide metabolites from marine sponges,” Natural Product Reports, 2016, 33, 861–880.
  • M. D. Norris, M.V. Perkins and E.J. Sorensen, “Biomimetic total synthesis of gracilioethers B and C,” Organic Letters, 2015, 17, 668–671.
  • M.D. Norris and M.V. Perkins, “A biomimetic cascade for the formation of the methyl [2(5H)-furanylidene]ethanoate core of spongosoritin A and the gracilioethers,” Tetrahedron, 2013, 69, 9813–9818.

Dr Fabricius Domingos, Biological Sciences Supervisors: Luciano Beheregaray, Luciana Möller Thesis title: Comparative Phylogenomics, Cryptic Species and Evolution of Lizards in the Cerrado Biodiversity Hotspot.

In his doctoral thesis, Dr Domingos investigated evolutionary patterns in the Cerrado, the largest savannah in South America and a formally recognised biodiversity hotspot. He applied modern genomic methods using lizards as model organisms. His research provided important insights into the evolution of Cerrado organisms, the origin of species in the region, and will also help on conservation planning in the region.

Now a postdoctoral fellow at the Zoology Department of the University of Brasilia (Brazil), Dr Domingos is investigating the origin of genetic variation and population migration patterns in the transition zone between the two largest Neotropical biomes, the Amazon forest and the Cerrado savannah.

“The boundaries between these biomes have a very complex ecological and geographical scenario, which imposes several scientific challenges,” he says.

“To tackle this problem, I will keep using lizards as model organisms, and also modern genomic datasets.

“The research skills developed during his PhD were essential to allow him pursuing such an enterprise.

  • Domingos, F.M.C.B., Bosque, R.J., Cassimiro, J., Colli, G.R., Rodrigues, M.T., Santos, M.G., Beheregaray, L.B., 2014. Out of the deep: Cryptic speciation in a Neotropical gecko (Squamata, Phyllodactylidae) revealed by species delimitation methods. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 80, 113–124.
  • Domingos, F.M.C.B., Colli, G.R., Lemmon, A., Lemmon, E.M., Beheregaray, L.B., 2017. In the shadows: Phylogenomics and coalescent species delimitation unveil cryptic diversity in a Cerrado endemic lizard (Squamata: Tropidurus). Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 107, 455–465.

Dr Joshua Britton, Chemical and Physical Sciences Supervisors: Professor Colin Raston, Dr Justin Chalker Thesis title: Multistep Continuous-Flow Transformations Using Vortex Fluidics.

  • Britton, J.; Raston, C. L.; Weiss, G. A. Rapid Protein Immobilization for Thin Film Biocatalysis, Chem. Commun., 2016, 52, 10159-10162.
  • Britton, J.; Castle, J. W.; Weiss, G. A.; Raston, C. L. Harnessing Thin Film Continuous Flow Assembly Lines, Chem. Eur. J., 2016, DOI:10.1002/chem.201602373.
  • Britton, J.; Smith, J. N.; Raston, C. L.; Weiss, G. A. Protein Folding Using a Vortex Fluidic Device, Methods In Molecular Biology, 2016, In press.
  • Britton, J. Prospects for Flow Chemistry, J. Flow Chem., 2016, 1-3.
  • Britton, J.; Meneghini, L. M.; Raston, C. L.; Weiss, G. A. Accelerating Biocatalysis in Thin Films, Angew. Chem. Int. Edit., 2016, DOI:  10.1002/anie.201604014.
  • Britton, J.; Chalker, J. M.; Raston, C. L. Rapid Vortex Fluidics: Continuous Flow Synthesis of Amides and Local Anesthetic Lidocaine, Chem. Eur. J., 2015, 30, 10660-10665.

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Dr Gorica Micic, Psychology Supervisors: Emeritus Professor Leon Lack, Associate Professor Michael Gradisar Thesis title: Biological and behavioural basis of delayed sleep-wake phase disorder.

Dr Rachel Andrew, Psychology Supervisors: Professor Marika Tiggemann, Dr Levina Clark Thesis title: Predictors and Outcomes of Positive Body Image in Young Women and Adolescent Girls.

Dr Andrew has had five thesis articles published in Body Image, Journal of Health Psychology, Developmental psychology and Journal of Adolescent Health.

  • Andrew, R., Tiggemann, M., & Clark, L. (2016). Predicting body appreciation in young women: An integrated model of positive body image. Body Image. 18, 34-42. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.04.003.
  • Andrew, R., Tiggemann, M., & Clark, L. (2016). Positive body image and young women’s health: Implications for sun protection, cancer screening, weight loss and alcohol consumption behaviours. Journal of Health Psychology, 21(1), 28-39.
  • Andrew, R., Tiggemann, M., & Clark, L. (2016). Predictors and health-related outcomes of positive body image in adolescent girls: A prospective study. Developmental psychology, 52(3), 463.
  • Andrew, R., Tiggemann, M., & Clark, L. (2015). Predictors of intuitive eating in adolescent girls. Journal of Adolescent Health. 56(2):209-14. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.09.005
  • Andrew, R., Tiggemann, M., & Clark, L. (2015). The protective role of body appreciation against media-induced body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 15, 98-104. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.07.005

Dr Steven Hail, Business Supervisors: Dr Philip Lawn, Professor Daniel Leonard Thesis title: Behavioural and Post-Keynesian Foundations for a New Macroeconomics.

Dr Hail is now a lecturer in economics at the University of Adelaide and a research scholar at the US Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity, contributing extensively to a variety of sites including The Conversation and Independent Australia.

“My thesis explored a variety of ways in which modern orthodox macroeconomics is potentially misleading and as such biases policy discussions and outcomes; and argued that the essential elements of a more useful macroeconomics can be drawn from a modern development out of Post Keynesian economics, and from insights into decision making and well being developed by behavioural economists.

My conclusion was that macroeconomic policy proposals should be informed by stock-flow consistent modern monetary theory; that a job guarantee, or employer of last resort scheme, is a proposal which is affordable and potentially able to stabilise an unstable economy; that the elimination of involuntary underemployment can raise the subjective well-being of millions of people and promote social inclusion; and that the framing of this and other policy proposals is of vital importance, and should not be neglected by economists and the politicians they advise.

A version of Dr Hail’s thesis has been submitted via the Binzagr Institute to a publisher for publication as part of a series of books by researchers at the institute.


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